DIABETES is more prevalent in Swindon than in any other town in the south west of England as more than 550 people here were diagnosed with it during the last year.

New analysis from Diabetes UK showed that 14,143 people in Swindon have diabetes - a percentage of 7.59 which is more than the UK average of 6.8 per cent and much higher than in places like Bath and north east Somerset, where five per cent of the population is diabetic.

Coun Brian Ford, the borough council’s cabinet member for adult services, said: “Diabetes is a horrible disease, it’s not just one of those things you can keep under control with tablets, in many cases there have to be amputations. People that are on the cusp of it are not always conscious of its severity. If anyone thinks they may be at risk or have diabetes, they should get checked straight away - the earlier it’s caught, the better.

"Type 2 diabetes is predominantly brought on by obesity and unhealthy lifestyles and I believe we should help as many people as possible, so we as a borough council are trying everything we can with the limited resources we have to combat diabetes and obesity with healthy eating information sessions, programs to keep people active and fun fitness schemes like Beat the Street.

"However, hale and hearty citizens who have full control of their faculties really should take some responsibility for their own health as well."

Symptoms of diabetes include going to the toilet a lot, being severe thirst, feeling more tired than usual and losing weight without trying. The condition can go undetected for many years, and by the time they are diagnosed one in three people already have complications with their eyes, feet, kidneys or nerves.

Diabetes UK’s head for the south west region Phaedra Perry said: “Thousands of Type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented if we help people understand their risk and how to reduce it. It is never too early to know your risk so that you can make changes to prevent or delay it.

“The signs of Type 2 diabetes are often not obvious, which is why spotting them early can be life-changing. Early diagnosis means that fewer people will experience diabetes-related complications such as sight loss, amputation, kidney failure, stroke and heart disease, because they can seek support earlier to manage their condition effectively. We urge people over 40 to get an NHS Health Check and we advise everyone to find out their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes with the Know your Risk tool.”

Email Diabetes UK’s local group for more information and support diabetes.swindon@care4free.net or call 01793 851229.

To find out more about NHS health checks, go to nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-health-check